Superpowers for Good
Superpowers for Good: Empowering Changemakers for Social Impact via Regulated Investment Crowdfunding from the SuperCrowd.
Disadvantaged Youth Have a Career Development Ally They May Have Missed - s11 ep32

Disadvantaged Youth Have a Career Development Ally They May Have Missed - s11 ep32

Jobs for America’s Graduates CEO Janelle Duray Explains How JAG Helps Youth Finish School and Find High-Potential Jobs

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Devin: What is your superpower?

Janelle: I believe it's that I do not shy away from large challenges.

Jobs for America’s Graduates (JAG) is a “43-year-old national nonprofit created specifically to reach young people who may be facing academic, environmental, social, economic challenges,” says CEO Janelle Duray.

“We wanted to ensure that they were invited to a program, that they could feel safe, that they could tackle those challenges and move beyond them and have the space to dream big about their future, to recognize their interests, their aptitudes, and then connect those interests and aptitudes to relevant opportunities in their communities,” she explains.

There may never have been a scarier time to enter the workforce, with artificial intelligence threatening to dramatically change or eliminate many traditional roles, from truck drivers to the practice of law and journalism.

Janelle says that preparing youth for lifelong learning is the antidote, enabling youth to have confidence in their ability to succeed in the long run.

JAG operates with three pillars that support what it calls the JAG advantage: trauma-informed care, project-based learning and employer engagement.

JAG was founded by state governors working closely with Fortune 100 companies, giving the organization a unique role as an intermediary between some of the best career opportunities in the country and the youth otherwise least likely to find them.

“What I love about working so closely with leading companies, Fortune 100, is that when we develop these intentional partnerships across multiple locations across multiple states, they will say they learn just as much from our students as our students learn from them,” Janelle says.

Since joining the organization, Janelle has worked to elevate the students, making them the focus of the work, moving corporate executives from the limelight–while strategically keeping them in the loop.

Janelle uses her superpower, her ability to tackle large challenges, to make a difference in the world.

AI Episode Summary

AI Episode Summary

  • JAG stands for Jobs for America's Graduates, a national program that supports young people in graduating high school and launching successful careers.

  • JAG's mission is to empower young people with the skills and support to succeed in education, employment, and life.

  • The program was created to reach young people facing challenges that hindered their success in high school and to connect them with opportunities in their communities.

  • JAG focuses on trauma-informed care, project-based learning, and employer engagement to support students in their education and career development.

  • Janelle Duray has been with JAG for 13 years and recently became the CEO, bringing her experience in the public and nonprofit sectors to the organization.

  • JAG works closely with Fortune 500 executives, governors, and employers to provide opportunities for students and build diverse talent pipelines.

  • Lifelong learning and adaptability are crucial in preparing young people for a future influenced by AI and technological advancements.

  • Janelle's superpower is not shying away from large challenges and being driven to be part of the solution. She emphasizes the importance of balance and enjoying the present while working towards future goals.

  • JAG has focused on positioning students as the flagship of the organization, investing in their leadership skills, and giving them a platform to advocate for themselves and their future.

  • To learn more about JAG, donate, or get involved, visit their website at or follow their social media channels at JAGNational.


How to Develop Tackling Large Challenges As a Superpower

Janelle grew up in a tiny town in rural Minnesota. “There were no stoplights in my entire county,” she says. Significant challenges appealed to her despite–or maybe because of–her situation. 

At JAG, she faced a big challenge. She wanted to shift focus and attention from the corporations to the students, making them the stars of the show. It was a big challenge in the context of a national nonprofit organization led and sponsored by the people she wanted to move out of the spotlight. A dozen years later, however, she can say, “mission accomplished.”

For developing the ability to tackle big challenges, she offers a simple formula: “increments, increments, increments.” She adds that looking back can allow you to see progress and measure it.

By following her example and advice, you can strengthen your ability to tackle large challenges. With time, you could make it a superpower that enables you to do more good in the world.

Guest Profile

Janelle Duray (she/her):

President & CEO, Jobs for America's Graduates

About Jobs for America's Graduates: Our mission is to empower the nation's young people with the skills and support to succeed in education, employment, and life.


Twitter Handle: @JAGnational

Instagram Handle: @jag.national

Facebook Page:

Biographical Information: Janelle Duray has over fifteen years of experience in education and workforce development consulting and nonprofit management. In October 2023, she was named as the second President & CEO of Jobs for America's Graduates, a national nonprofit that has served 1.6 million youth since its inception 40+ years ago and currently serves over 75,000 youth across 1,500 communities. In her role, Janelle is charged to cast JAG's future vision by blending her passion to serve others and innovating and elevating organizations to bring JAG services to a broader scale.

Janelle has served in many roles at JAG since 2012. In January 2020, she was named Executive Vice President and subsequently led the organization through the COVID-19 pandemic, making critical investments in technology, student engagement programming, Federal procurement infrastructure, and overall organizational development for the JAG National Office and its national network. Her leadership throughout the pandemic led the Board of Directors to adopt JAG’s Youth Opportunity and Outcomes 2024 Strategic Goals – the most ambitious goals in JAG’s history.

Prior to her commitment to JAG, Janelle has consulted with leading Fortune 500 companies and national nonprofits, including ADM, HCA, United Way Worldwide, the AARP Foundation, the National Urban League, and more, to grow their fund development, external affairs efforts, and overall strategy.

Janelle received her Master of Arts in Public Administration from George Mason University’s Schar School of Policy and Government and her Bachelor of Arts in Global Studies from the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities.

Throughout her post-secondary education, Janelle held positions at the Association of American Law Schools and former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty’s office.

Outside of JAG, Janelle enjoys traveling, concerts, musing about the cosmos, and her first passion, playing piano.

Twitter Handle: @JanelleDuray


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Superpowers for Good
Superpowers for Good: Empowering Changemakers for Social Impact via Regulated Investment Crowdfunding from the SuperCrowd.
We host changemakers who are using regulated investment crowdfunding for social impact--impact crowdfunding--as impact investors or social entrepreneurs, catalyzing change with leadership skills we call superpowers.